I’m not the ‘feeling sorry for myself’ type, but recently I was a little tempted – it lasted for about 3 seconds. I was walking home from the Rec Centre, where I teach fitness classes, just enjoying the evening and minding my own business, when all of a sudden I remembered it’s my first Christmas apart from Mike. It was like, “Oh yeah, this is my first Christmas without him (I should be really sad).” But sadness didn’t have a chance to enter in because this was my next thought, “It’s Mike’s first Christmas in heaven!” Whomp, abundant joy. For a minute there, I was walking on air. I felt like dancing … I definitely danced on the inside, although I wouldn’t have looked that out of place had I danced down the South end of 224th St.
I should also mention that it’s Mike’s mum’s first Christmas in heaven too, which is pretty cool for these two!
I’ve had a few friends express some concern for me as we approach Christmas – it being my first Christmas apart from Mike. While I really appreciate the care and concern of family and friends, I honestly think I’m going to be okay. This is what I have to say, “We had Christmas.”
I’ll never forget the man I met a few days before my book signing at Save On Foods back in April when my book first launched. I was there to meet with my friend Shelley who invited me to do the book signing. She and I were going over the details of the event when a costumer she knew well came over to her to say hello. She introduced us and told him about my book – Hold On, Let Go. He was a friendly and jokey guy, but as soon as he heard my book was about my husband who had ALS, his smile disappeared. He shared that his wife also had ALS. He told us she passed away years ago and he proceeded to draw us a picture of their experience with the disease. Understandably, he was still very hurt. Unfortunately, he was bitter and angry. It wasn’t a pretty picture. ALS of course isn’t pretty, but this man and his family had experienced complete devastation with this illness. There was no indication of peace or joy … just sorrow and grief.
While comparing stories, this man told me his wife passed away just before Christmas. The last thing he said to me when he left the grocery store was, “You had Christmas.” I replied gratefully, “Yes, we had Christmas.”
We had many wonderful Christmases and last Christmas was extra special. Here are a few words from my blog post, ‘Typical Mike’ from December 28th 2014:
“It’s been a unique Christmas. Some things are the same, but some are very different. Mike says this will most likely be our last Christmas together here on earth so we are clinging to the moments and making this Christmas an extra special one … or I should say God is making it extra special.
“We are having a wonderful time with family, but our times alone are extraordinary. The tender moments between sessions of suctioning and uncontrollable coughing and bowel care, are sweet. Its like there’s this glow around us. Maybe it’s all the Christmas lights I put up this year because Mike loves Christmas lights, but it’s a special glow, like angels are among us. It’s been a time of last words, and everyday I wonder why I’m so lucky to be able to say good bye like this. Nothing will go unsaid.”
When I wrote that post I had no idea of course that Mike would pass away only eight days later, but I knew in my heart it was our last Christmas together. I trust that everything that was meant to be said was said, although I have sometimes questioned over these eleven months if it was. It doesn’t matter now though, it was a wonderful good bye … and this year he spends Christmas in heaven.
We had Christmas, so please don’t be sad for me. Yes, there will be (more) tears over the next few weeks, but the joy far outweighs the grief (like most of the time).
This picture is from our last Christmas in our house on Mountainview Cres – Dec 2011. The tree was always such a big deal for us. This year, Madison started us off with a Charlie Brown tree (a true Charlie Brown tree that came in a box with Charlie’s picture on it and everything) which I love and when I heard we weren’t allowed to have a real tree in our new apartment, I thought the little Charlie tree would do. But Mike would want us to have lights, so I found something a bit bigger. Still a little tree, but one I put lights and birds and a few ornaments on. I’m pretty unmotivated this year to do what I usually do at Christmas as far as decorating, shopping, baking etc but there are lights. If Mike is looking, surely he will see the two lit stars in our big window. I hung the same stars last year and told Mike I’d leave them up for his birthday. He wasn’t here for his birthday but we kept the stars up until Madison and I moved in August.
This picture is one of the many Christmas cards I made over the years. This is when I actually used real scissors and glue to cut and paste.
Check out my post ‘Typical Mike’ in full. It’s about love and forgiveness and it’s my most read blog post.
Did you catch my last post ‘My Big Fat Awesome Legs’? It’s about self perception, God’s unconditional love and a little bit about world peace. It opened up the door for some interesting conversations. A days after I posted it, I went back and added a paragraph toward the end addressing my “teaser” “Jay”. Jay wasn’t a bully or a terrible person, just a regular boy with some bad communication (like all of us sometimes).
Anyway, thank you so much for continuing to tune in to ALS With Courage and for all your encouragement, support, love and prayers.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!